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Middle-Distance Runners Come Up Big at Springtime Invitational

Michael Cunetta. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michael Cunetta. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Set Slew of Personal Records, Conclude Busy Weekend in Impressive Fashion

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—After several of its members competed at the historic Penn Relays in Philadelphia on Thursday through Saturday, the Yale men's track and field team wrapped up its hectic weekend by hosting the Yale Springtime Invitational at its own Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex on Sunday. The meet—which attracted a wide range of regional competition from schools like Fairfield, Hartford, Iona, Marist, Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut State, University of New Haven and Vassar—served as the Elis' final regular season meet. The postseason will kick off when Yale hosts the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on May 10-11.

The Bulldogs had a large contingent competing on Sunday, and nowhere was their skill and depth more evident than in the middle-distance events. Junior Jacob Sandry (1:56.63) set a personal record in the 800-meter race, placing first overall in a field of 37 runners. Sandry—who also finished 17th in the 1,500-meters on Sunday—just edged out his teammate, junior Michael Grace (1.57.66), who raced to a third-place finish in the 800-meters. Grace has been running well of late, and the Charlotte, N.C., native set his personal record in the event just last weekend before running the 1,200-meter leg for the Bulldogs' distance medley relay team at the Penn Relays on Friday. Freshman Tim Cox (1:58.61), meanwhile, turned some heads with his fourth-place finish, breaking his previous personal record by nearly two full seconds in the process. Junior John McGowan, competing in just his second meet of the entire track season, hardly looked rusty, placing eighth in the 800-meters with a time of 1:59.36 and second in the 1,500-meters with a mark of 4:01.58—more than 13 seconds faster than the 1,500-meter time he recorded last weekend.

Senior Michele Gama Sosa, freshman David Hatch and senior Miles Richardson each competed in both the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races as well, and Hatch's 1,500-meter performance (a seventh-place finish with a personal record time of 4:10.58) was arguably the best of his young career. Senior John Cocco (2:03.42) and freshman Pete Merritt (2:09.90) finished 24th and 33rd, respectively, in the 800-meters. Sophomore Max Payson (4:22.33) placed 24th in the 1,500-meters.

Running in his final regular season track meet, senior Nnamdi Udeh led the Elis in both short sprint events, finishing 14th (11.37) in the 100-meter dash and seventh (22.65) in the 200-meters. Freshman Chandler Crusan—who ran the 400-meter leg for the Elis' distance medley relay team at the Penn Relays two days ago—finished just behind Udeh in the 200-meters on Sunday, placing 11th with a time of 23.10. Juniors Mario Kranjac (23.23) and Dylan Hurley (23.27) finished with almost identical times in the 200-meters, placing 14th and 16th, respectively. Sophomore Martin Tolentino, senior Clifford Van Meter and junior Chen Wang also represented the Elis well on Sunday, as each competed in both short sprint events.

In addition to running the 200-meter dash, Crusan, Hurley and Kranjac all also ran the 400-meter dash, their usual event. The trio finished back-to-back-to-back in the race. Crusan (51.50) took fourth place, while Kranjac and Hurley trailed him with times of 51.66 and 52.10, respectively. Kranjac was the Elis' top finisher in the event at the first two meets of the outdoor season, but Crusan has made great strides since then and has led his fellow sprinters in the race at each of the past three meets.

Junior Daniel Kemp and freshman Austin Loewen represented the Bulldogs in the hurdles. Loewen (third place – 15.32) barely beat out Kemp (15.40) in the 110-meter event, while Kemp (59.22) placed second overall as the only Eli competing in the 400-meter event. Both athletes set 110-meter hurdle personal records on Sunday, and the pair appears to be upping their performances as the postseason approaches.

In the longest race of the day, the 5,000-meter race, senior Michael Cunetta (15:42.96) and freshman Dan Grosvenor (15:46.73) ran especially well, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. Freshman J.P. Meredith (16:09.47) and junior Daniel Caballero (16:14.21) placed 17th and 18th, respectively. Both runners have only competed on a limited basis this season but have raced more as of late, running at each of Yale's past two home meets.

As usual, senior John Oppenheimer, freshman Torren Peebles and freshman Luke Persichetti were the Bulldogs' only entrants in the field events. Persichetti placed sixth in the shot put (47'7.25" – 14.51m) and hammer throw (151'0" – 46.02m), setting personal records in both events in an all-around strong performance—clearly his best of the season. Persichetti hit his top mark in the shot put on his final attempt after committing fouls on his previous two tries. Oppenheimer (42'8.25" – 13.01m) set a personal record of his own in the shot put, placing ninth. And like Persichetti, Oppenheimer set his personal record on his final throw. Peebles (103'9" – 31.63m), meanwhile, placed 10th in the javelin throw, hitting his top mark on his very first attempt.

With the regular season now in the books, the Bulldogs will have two weeks to rest before opening postseason competition at home with the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on May 10-11.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity